Taking A Look At Bible Translation

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Special Bible Translation Videos

In many of my articles over the past two years, I have tried to explain what is involved in doing Bible translation work.  Explaining the process of translation, starting with a rough draft and then the numerous checking stages after that, can be done in words.  But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  And so that is what I will do for this article, provide you with some links to see some video clips that demonstrate and explain the ministry of Bible translation.

Last week, and on the very same day, two short videos were released online.  The first one, produced by Wycliffe Bible Translators, does an excellent job illustrating the stages and the challenges of Bible translation work.  Take a look at this video clip using a fictional language from Asia:

The Bible Translation Process

Now that you have a little taste of what it takes to translate the Bible into another language and culture of the world, you will want to take a look at this next video.  This video clip was just produced by our mission group, Pioneer Bible Translators, and it helps us to see the bigger global picture of Bible translation.  We know that God sent His Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of the whole world.  But there are still over 2,200 languages in the world that do not have even one verse of Scripture in their language.

Watch this next video clip and try to gain a new perspective on what needs to be done in world missions:

Answer The Call

Now that you have seen these two quick video clips, I want to invite you to view a message that I preached to some churches in eastern Canada a few weeks ago.  I was invited to share about the ministry of Bible translation, which I am always happy to do.  In my message, I outline “The Task”, “The Challenges” and “The Vision” of Bible translation.  The message is about 40 minutes long, so I would like to invite you to sit back now (or at a later time) and catch the vision of what God is doing in the world.

Here is the link to the video message I delivered:

Catch The Vision

I hope you have enjoyed watching these videos as much as I have enjoyed preparing this article and spreading the word of what God is doing through ordinary people like you and me to take God’s Word to the ends of the earth.

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God’s Timing Can Be Confusing

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John 7:1 – 13

7 1 After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.

6 Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. 7 The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. 8 You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” 9 After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.

10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.

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As we read the opening verses of chapter seven, we can see that things are just about to come to a head between Jesus and the religious leaders of the Jews.  We see clearly in verse one that the Jewish authorities have made up their minds to kill Jesus.  They just need a good reason to arrest him to make it possible to lay the grounds for Jesus to be executed.  But the Jewish leaders are not the only ones who are not too pleased with him.

Consider how Jesus’ brothers speak to him.  They basically challenge Jesus to get himself seen publicly and display his “miraculous” powers and so become famous and popular with the people.  It is very possible as we read their words, that they said this to Jesus in a condescending and sarcastic way, seeing as “even his brothers didn’t believe in him.

And then there are the general population within Jerusalem, Judea and Galilee who have critical opinions about Jesus.  There were some though who wondered if Jesus was the man whom God had sent to help the nation, or simply that he was a “good man”.  But it would appear from our passage that many more people were now considering that Jesus was just some religious freak, “a fraud who deceives the people.

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And so we see that nearly everyone was upset at Jesus for all kinds of reasons.  His brothers believed that Jesus should take the situation forcefully into his hands and make people believe in him.  The crowds of people simply wanted some kind of sign or confirmation that all their waiting and hopes for a promised Saviour was not in vain.  But could Jesus be this Man?  And the Pharisees wanted Jesus to play by their rules, or not at all.  And since Jesus didn’t follow all their traditions, then killing him was their answer.

What was not understood by anyone of all these participants in this event, was that no one could make Jesus fit into their mold, not could they push him into doing any action if it had not been first ordained and directed by God the Father.  That is what it means when Jesus said, “my time has not yet come.”  Jesus had not come to make himself known, nor to gain glory for himself.  Jesus came to teach people the truth concerning God and His Kingdom.

Pretty much everyone then went up to Jerusalem to celebrate one of their greatest Festivals.  The “Feast of Tabernacles” had become a reminder of when the Jewish people had wandered the desert and had to live in tents (also called tabernacles).  It was a reminder of how God had taken care of His people during a very difficult time.  And when Jesus did come later, after first avoiding public appearance, He would late in the week of the Feast talk out about how He was the source of living water to people who believed in Him.

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So what can we learn from this passage?  It’s clear that almost everyone is upset with Jesus, and yet He does not seem to let this bother him.  Actually, his delay in coming and revealing himself to people primed the people so that they would truly take note of him and what he said when he finally did stand up publicly.  You see, as he said, his time “had not come yet”.

How often do we have the similar thoughts in our heads, when things are getting tense and life is full of challenges and unknowns.  We know that God exists, and that the Son (Jesus) is there at the throne of God asking for help on our behalf.  But God’s hand of help or healing seems to be delayed.  What do we think about that?

Don’t we challenge God at times to “show Himself” to us, and resolve the situation we are in?  But God’s understanding of the big picture and His sense of timing of things is so much greater and wiser than our own ways and thoughts.  So then, even though we may not fully or ever understand God and His ways, we must learn (from Scripture and experience in life) that God is never early when He does something, but He is also never late.  Let us allow Him to do all things “when the time is right”.

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* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Mission Internship In Papua New Guinea

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Through The Eyes of a New Missionary

Pioneer Bible Translators is growing rapidly in the number of career missionaries.  There is still such a big job out there to try to start language projects in every language group of the world that needs a translation.  One of the ways in which we are proactive in the area of recruitment, is to have young people go to the mission field for a summer experience.  Below is a letter from our of our 2012 interns to Papua New Guinea.  Catch the excitement as she shares about her first-time experience to PNG.

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I am currently having a splendid time on the other side of the world and have added a new location to the places I consider home.  After finishing the two weeks of training in Texas and saying goodbye to my other intern friends who went to another country, our group of three successfully completed the 50 hours of travel, making several tight connections and arriving safely in Madang with our luggage!  We spent one full day in the city before catching a small MAF mission plane and went out to a remote village.

The missionary who lead our excursion grew up in this village while her parents worked on translating the Bible into the language of the people.  She works in the PBT (Pioneer Bible Translators) office in Madang, so going back to the village, for her, was really like going home. Not only did the people welcome her as their family but they also welcomed us.  We were so well loved by the people; they took us in and treated us like family and it was wonderful.

This village is so beautiful and is built right on a spectacular river.  The landscape is dotted with coconut palms and fruit trees and picturesque thatched houses.  We were constantly surrounded by breathtaking views. It was so beautiful; we basically lived in a postcard for two weeks.  We stayed in the missionary house,  which is in the middle of the village. 

 

Our primary task was language learning, so on a typical day, we would go to one of the neighboring houses and do whatever the people were doing and try to pick up as much Tok Pisin (which is the PNG trade language) as we could.  We would often sit with the women as they made bilums (which are the all purpose bags that are made out of woven string and I even learned to make one myself).

The people in Papua New Guinea live off what they can hunt or gather from the land.  Some days we went to the gardens and helped gather fire wood or bring back yams or we hiked to the sago swamps and helped in the laborious process of harvesting the white paste from the middle of a certain kind of palm tree.  Sago is served in a number of different ways but is best fried with grub worms imbedded in it.  (Not really, but it was worth the experience. It is best, fried, sans grubs).

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Although most meals we ate in our own food in the house, the women were happy to teach us to cook over an open fire and to help make their meals.  Some of our other experiences include hiking to see a WWII plane that had crashed in the area, going fishing, visiting the school in the village, going to a neighboring village and meeting with the national translators, having a village wide meal, learning some of the native song and dance, and swimming in our fantastic river nearly every day.

My time in the village was wonderful and I would still rather be there.  I did a lot of really cool things, but more importantly I built wonderful relationships and was sad to leave the people who had become so dear to me after such a short time.  I am proud to say that my language learning went well and after only two weeks I can understand most of what I hear and carry on a decent conversation.

The time of meeting with the national translator was very helpful and encouraging.  Throughout this entire time, God has been confirming His call on my life.  I know that being a Bible translator and living so far away will not be easy but I am trusting that God will give me the strength to do what He has called me to.  I am excited to say that I have left a piece of my heart in PNG and have found another place to call home.

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As a “veteran” missionary and Bible translator, I am thrilled when I read letters, such as the one above.  At times, when I go back to PNG on another trip, I can sometimes forget to look around and enjoy the beautiful scenery around me since I have been over there so many times.  But most times I do get that sense again of being transported over into a true Paradise on earth.

More importantly, I am very encouraged when I read of the excitement that a new missionary has on their first-time experiences.  And to see one write of her desire to come back and work long-term as a Bible translator is definitely the best news of all.  I only had a brief chance to meet this young woman in Dallas as she was in my “Introduction to Linguistics” class before she flew to PNG.  But I look forward to the day that God will bring her back to PNG as a full-time missionary.

Remember: “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”.
Praise God for this potential new Bible translator who wants to return to PNG to serve the Lord in Bible translation.

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* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Walking In The Power of the Holy Spirit – Pt. 2

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 14

At the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences.

                                          

Chapter 7: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
POWER MOVES IN

Question #2: The chapter asks, “What got into Peter?”  How would you answer this question?  (See Acts 2:4, 17-18.)

It should be rather obvious to anyone who reads the Gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) and compares the stories that deal with Peter there with what happens in Acts chapter 2 that Peter had become quite a changed man.  In the Gospel accounts, Peter was known to be hot-headed, loud-mouthed and then a cowardly man when the chips were down.  But in Acts 2, we see Peter was publicly bold as he clearly articulated the message of the Gospel and the need for people to repent of their sin and turn to Jesus for their salvation.

This kind of transformation is something that is normally impossible for a person to do on their own.  Although we do read of stories where someone is suddenly heroic in a dangerous situation, and there are plenty of “self-help” books out there.  For the most part, people do not change drastically in such a powerful and positive way like Peter did, unless something outside of themselves happens which has the power to cause such a change.  By reading more of the biblical account, we discover that it is the resurrected Christ, and the release of the Holy Spirit into his life that brings about this newly transformed Peter.

Question #3: These days, do you feel more like the early Peter or the later one?  Or do you vacillate between the two in any given week?

This is a good question.  And I believe that for myself, and probably for most Christians, the truth is that we do a lot of vacillating between being alive and vibrant in our faith and then sinking into times of discouragement and spiritual desert experiences.  For some Christians though, they may start out their journey of faith quite strong, but through the busyness of life and through neglect of spiritual disciplines and activities, their spiritual vitality slowly fades until there is not much left of their original zeal for God.

Speaking for myself again, I don’t think that I flip-flop in my spiritual life on a weekly basis.  But I can look back over the years and say that there have been “seasons of life” which can be marked with greater or lesser spiritual vitality.  I don’t consider these long ups and downs to be necessarily bad, as much as they reflect the ebb and flow of life itself.  What I do consider to be important though, is whether or not the kernel of faith in Christ remains strong, especially during those dry spells and tough periods in life that happen to us all.

I have found that I have reflected often on that great poem “Footprints” over the years.  It is great when life is going along well and we feel very connected with God.  Those are the times when we can look back and see both of our footprints going along side-by-side in the sand.  But during those tough times of life, when we even feel like God has abandoned us, and we only see one set of footprints in the sand, that is when God says to us, “Those were the times that I carried you.”  That is what my faith is like for the most part.  I believe God is walking beside me, or He is carrying me, and in either case, God strengthens me to be able to handle whatever life dishes out to me.

Question #4: What was the difference between Jesus living near the disciples and the Spirit living in them?  What were the results?  Do you long for such results in your life?  What difference might that make in your life right now?

When Jesus lives among the disciples, they saw the power of God at work through all that Jesus did.  But once Jesus released the Holy Spirit to live within the disciples, they found that they had the power of God within themselves to do all the things that they had once seen Jesus do.  What a wonderful thing that must have been to go from being witnesses of God’s power to being instruments of God’s power.

In the years that I have been in ministry, both here in North America and in overseas mission work, I have definitely seen the power of God active in the lives of others as well as being released through me to impact other people.  I have had spiritual encounters with evil forces and demonic beings.  I’ve experienced healing in my life in the past and am seeing it happen in the present.  God is very much alive in today’s world.

What we need to do is to first believe that this spiritual power is available to us to do God’s work and will in the world.  And then keep our eyes open, both to look up to God for our daily strength and to look out around for opportunities to act on God’s behalf.  When we do this, then God will bring about the circumstances to work in and through us to impact the world.  But just remember one thing: it is always about God and His power in us, never about us and what we think we can do.  That’s how we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

                                          

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

Jesus Has The Words of Eternal Life

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John 6:60 – 71

60  When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 

64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”   66  After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 

67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them,“Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, forhe, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

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This last section of John chapter 6 is one of the important climaxes of the events in Jesus’ life as we head toward the dénouement of His final week on earth.  We are still many months away from Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion.  But we see the elements of lines being drawn, sides being taken, and foreshadowing of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, one of His twelve inner circle disciples.

What the followers of Jesus (another term for general disciples) heard, as mentioned in verse 60, comes from the passage immediately above this one, where Jesus stated that He was the “bread of life which had come down from heaven” and that “anyone who [figuratively] ate His flesh and drank His blood” would not die (spiritually), but live forever.  No wonder the followers/disciples of Jesus said “this is a hard saying.”

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As people grumbled about the claims Jesus made, he asked them if His statements caused them to be offended.  I don’t think this captures the essence of the Greek verb here.  The verb “skandalidzoo” is the root for our English word “scandalized”.  A better translation of this verb is to say “to cause someone to stumble”.  These people who had been following Jesus possessed some seeds of faith in Jesus.  But after this dialogue, many of them are “scandalized”, and their fragile faith crumbles and they stumble over Jesus’ words.

This is a crucial point in Jesus’ ministry.  He has basically laid out on the table the extreme sacrifice that He will have to make (be betrayed which leads to His death), but also He has laid out the extreme commitment that a person must make to be a true follower of Him.  And that people must put their faith in Him to gain true spiritual life.  This is so opposite to what people through the centuries have believed, that eternal life could be gained through good deeds done by the strength of our human flesh.

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Finally, after speaking in difficult figurative language, Jesus spells it out clearly, that the words He speaks are the true source of where we obtain life for our spirits.  This became a breaking point for some of those who followed, and so they left Jesus.  Then Jesus turns to His special twelve disciples and asked them if they too would stop following Him.  Peter’s words are truly profound, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Consider the sharp contrast being played out here.  Many people cannot make the faith decision that Jesus holds the keys of eternal life, and they shake their heads and walk away.  But Peter sees clearly that Jesus is the One appointed by God (i.e. “the Holy One”) to bring spiritual life and salvation.  And Peter bows his head in belief and submission.

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It is so sad to me to hear about how close some people have been to Jesus (whether during the time He lived on earth, or now and is proclaimed alive through the Living Word of God), and yet people fail to see Him for who He is.  Or more seriously, they ignore Him whom they know to be Lord and the Bridegroom to the Church, and yet they focus on such petty matters of the human flesh.  Let me explain.

When Christ Jesus died on the cross, He not only died to bring about the offer of salvation to everyone who believed in Him, but He also died, rose from the grave and ascended to heaven to release the power of the Holy Spirit to help build the Church, Christ’s bride.  Yet we have so many bad examples today to show how unworthily His Church is acting, that many people are hurt instead of being given hope and healing.

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I know personally of some churches which have allowed pride, stubbornness, personality clashes and even sinful actions to bring about such dissension that ultimately the church is split apart.  We must not let this continue.  Jesus said that “the Spirit brings life; the flesh is no help at all.”  Let us return to hearing the Words of Jesus which bring life, instead of listening to the voices of selfish individualism.  The Church is to be a living organism, not an organization.  Let Christ be the true head, and we remain the obedient body.  That will certainly lead us to the road of Eternal Life.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

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